Baby V’s First Trip – Taiwan Escapade (Part 2)
If you’ve read our earlier article on our first holiday with baby, here’s part 2, where we combed the cooler climates of Cing Jing, and trooped to Taipei for shopping and more eating. Our trip covered: Taipei > Taichung > Cing Jing > Taipei, approx. 2 nights at each place.
Travelling with a baby IS POSSIBLE! Read on for our adventures!
Day 4: Green Green Grassland – The Old England Manor – Carton King Creativity Park/Cat Place – Matina Mill Bread Factory – Visitor’s Area – Swiss Place
We woke up to crisp, cool air in the morning and headed down to the common breakfast area. Breakfast was buffet-style with the usual Chinese porridge and condiments, and some Western touches like pancakes, sausages, omelettes.
For our trip from Cing Jing and beyond, we went public mostly. Driver uncle was only engaged for the Taichung route. The kind owner of our hotel, Star Villa, drove us to the bus interchange as we had missed the shuttle service timing, and we hopped onto the public bus to get to Green Green Grassland. Boy, that stop to the grassland was packed with visitors, and pretty much gave an idea on the expected turnout at this popular venue.
We spent about an hour there, but the sun was really getting to us so we decided to start moving down to street level and hailed a cab (TIP: all cab rides within Cing Jing goes at a flat rate of NT200) to make our way to The Old England Manor (老英格蘭) for high tea. During my research for this trip, this place came up several times and I JUST HAD TO GO!! They do not take reservations on weekends, only walk-ins so you can put your name down on the waiting list. High tea starts at 11.30am – 4pm, so do swing by slightly earlier to ensure seats.
While waiting, we got trigger-happy as this place was really pretty with its architectural details. Very English style, and it was a lovely memory of our trip to Europe several years ago. This charming mansion is also popular for bridal photography and it is also a must-visit place when you’re in Cing Jing, because there really isn’t much to do up there. While the restaurant crew was getting ready for guests to enter (pretty promptly at 11.30am!), Baby Vera got to step in first before everyone was ushered in because….
As you can see, the décor at the dining area was beautified with all things English, with its intricate details and clever use of natural sunlight for the otherwise-dark area. Service was lackluster though and seemed abit off as what would be expected of the grand place. Maybe they were “used” to being popular. It seems that besides the high tea, there was an option for set lunch too; which we opted for, since the high tea portions didn’t look very filling as lunch.
Food was not too bad, but not WOW, given the hype and grandeur of this place. Guess, places like these usually fall short one way or another. For a moment, while eating, I felt part of a “system” where prepared food churned out from the kitchen started to move out in batches to be served. It wasn’t full house, and seating area was aplenty to cater to growing demands. Think of it like a mass-tige feel; definitely not the avant garde, pampering sort. Stepping into the inner areas of the premises are only for guests staying at the mansion, so it keeps privacy for them and also a tinge of mystery to the public. Hotel rates are pretty pricey, but from photos, it does seem very nice.
After our meal, we got the staff to help get us a cab, and we made our way to Carton King Creativity Park/Cat Place to see look. Since, we’ve explored Carton King at Tai Chung, this outlet here is definitely smaller but entrance is free.
After taking a break under the big umbrella, we started lamenting that we’ve spent too much time in Cing Jing, and should have just parked the additional day for Taipei instead. As our HSR tickets to Taipei were pre-purchased, we couldn’t take flight just yet. So Hub asked one of the ladies at the Cat Place if there were other places to visit at Cing Jing, and out of all her suggestions (we have either visited the rest or simply not keen on going), one place piqued our interest – a bread factory. Well, didn’t know there was a bread factory there. She said it was a 15min walk away, and that didn’t sound too bad. But there were no proper pedestrian pavements along the road, and you’ll end up walking on the side of the roads where it’s a 2way traffic, plus there are buses/coaches that go round the slopey highlands, vehicles that speed quite close.. so I suggested to cab there instead. With a baby in tow, stroller, diaper bag, and our folks, my mind opted for safety of course. Fortunately we did so! Because the place was sooooo deep in, that walking there might take you at least 30mins, if you don’t lose your way!
See that handwritten signage? Keep following those signs from the main road, all the way into the lorongs, and you’ll get there! Another big giveaway to lead you to the bread factory? Sakura flowers! There were many sakura flowers paving the way along the road towards the main house – you won’t miss this, especially during Sakura season.
We were lucky to meet the owners during our trip! Mr and Mrs Ma live upstairs and the bakery and bread factory are opened to public, and there are hands-on bread making classes conducted there too but we missed the timings. The Taiwanese folks live in Taipei and rebuilt this place into an English style mansion to house the bakery. They have 2 daughters, and one of them is learning baking in Japan (we look alike! *gasp* cos Mr Ma showed us their photos. But same face not same fate; baking and I don’t share that same affinity like she does … LOL) when we were there. She enjoys baking and hence her father decided to start this business for her. And the bakery has a humble area which sells fresh bakes of bread, that are also sold to cafes in Taiwan, where their main business is actually selling bread online. Mr and Mrs Ma live upstairs whenever they are back to Cing Jing; Mr Ma’s primary business deals with spare parts supply. Haha.. sounds like we dug up their family story or something, in fact both folks were pretty chatty in a reserved manner but maybe my dad is a good conversationalist (those vibes, you know what I mean?) and they started talking non-stop. We must have been there for at least 1.5hr! LOL.
It was a new discovery and wasn’t easy to get there so, we definitely had to tour the area, minus their residential parts upstairs. We bought some bread and tea as our afternoon break as well, while my dad and hub chatted with the 2 folks. Stepping outside the area, you will see lots of plants and trees that obscure the view a little; but it’s only natural not forgetting this place seems like it was planted in wilderness, which gives it a real feel of secrecy (think Hansel and Gretal!) and far from the maddening crowd. It’s like getting teleported into a new dimension and you really get to enjoy the quiet environment and still moments of just staying there to bake… or enjoy some tea and bakes, shut down overworked minds and don’t give a hoot to anything.
Have to add that even the taxi uncle hadn’t heard of this place… must be really new to everyone since it only opened a couple of months before we visited. Hopefully more people can check out this lovely place, it’s a nice change from the usual hustle and bustle, plus learn to make bread too, if you like! And, experience Taiwan and Cing Jing in a different way :) If you’ve got older kids, this will be a fun interactive activity for them while they learn to bake some yummy buns!
Do note that there are no diaper changing rooms/nursing rooms here, so if baby needs a change of diaper, that’s where your stroller comes in handy!
The taxi uncle was really nice and easy-going too as he waited for us while we explored our newfound hideout – Matina Mill, it’s not much of a secret now! :P He was also very intrigued with this new discovery LOL! We left the place together and we headed to our next stop – the Visitor’s Area.
It was a simple place with a gift shop that sells some necessities too and there is a breastfeeding room as well, which has facilities for diaper changing. Just ask for keys from the customer service counter. We used the place to change baby V’s diapers and then promptly put her into the carrier to nurse – no need to confine myself in that room; that’s the convenience of nursing-on-the-go, and i’m extremely thankful and grateful to my bubba :)
Nothing much in this area, save for a Scent Library which was pretty interesting to check out, and it also stood out
like a sore thumb because the other stores/facilities seemed to be of a different spectrum. Probably going through tenant renewal? There were 2 public massage chairs if visitors wanted a quick rejuvenation – just make sure you’ve coins.
Did you notice those scent options? Some of them are really weird! Clean windows – for the clean freak/neurotic ones, perhaps? Some other strange ones: Earthworm, firefly, dirt, holy water, sex on the beach, between the sheets…. hmmm….
Since there wasn’t much to see or do, we left the place and started walking down to another area where we saw people heading towards. Again, there are no pedestrian pavements so do be careful when walking along the road. At least this route is not near sharp bends and turns, and we walked on and ended up at an area right opposite Carton King -_-||| LOL! Oh well, since this was probably one of the last few places we have yet to comb, let’s check it out!
Turns out, it was Cing Jing Recreation Centre, also where we took the bus from to get to Green Green Grassland in the morning. Lots of food options including some of their street food and other individual stores, almost like an opened food court. Simply grab any table in the middle courtyard and dine away. Although it was late afternoon/early evening, the place was mostly “choped” for dining. Our mouths got abit itchy too, so we bought cuttlefish, bubble tea and some BBQ scallops for snacks. Was a tad early for dinner and we weren’t really hungry so we decided to hold dinner till later. There is also a 7-11, MOS Burger and Starbucks upstairs. There were also stores selling Japanese bento sets and other food which can be easily ‘tabao-ed’ for convenience.
Guess what we bought for dinner in the end?
After a sinful MSG-laden meal, we tucked into the peaches that the men bought along the way up to Cing Jing lest they rot. And we had an early night, and also our last night in the super duper big bed!
Day 5: [Cing Jing – Taipei] Cosmos Hotel – Ximending
The next morning, Dad suggested we have some coffee al fresco in the natural winds and scenic view after the breakfast buffet indoors. It’s really lovely up there and I heard there were many stars the night before. Must have been really pretty, too bad I missed it :( Little wonder that the hotel is named Star Villa; they are very blessed to be able to have such wonderful picturesque every day.
We got the hotel folks to book transport for us the night before, to take us to the HSR station in Tai Chung, where we’d be taking our pre-booked HSR train ride to Taipei Main Station. The drive took about 1h 15 mins and costs around NT $2,200. Fortunately, it was a 7-seater so the ride was comfy. It was close to baby V’s nap time, so she mostly nursed and slept throughout. Ditto for the folks too, except for moi surviving with nary a wink. Seems like motherhood has changed even my sleeping habits – I used to be able to fall asleep just about anywhere. Maybe subconsciously I was afraid that I might loosen my grip and my baby was gonna roll off… :S
Upon seeing Cosmos Hotel, adrenaline rushed through my veins – SHOPPING SHOPPING!!! I could hear those words loud and clear, I tell you! I hadn’t bought anything much so far and Taipei’s my last bet. LOL! And the best part? Cosmos Hotel is RIGHT NEXT TO the train station! *jumps for joy* There are even underground malls much like our Citylink or Raffles Exchange, except theirs span across a larger area. Travelling via their Metro MRT is uber easy and all the main shopping areas are either right at the stations or within walking distance! Here‘s a quick reference to their stations and below image shows a guide to some places of interest.
Walking via the underground route to the hotel only made me more excited. Whenever we visited Taiwan, my shopping loots needed extra bags, so it was only natural for me to feel this way :P At check-in, we requested for a bath tub, which they did have, fortunately! It was a really cool, portable one too, I must say. Do be careful when placing baby in though, as it is pretty slippery in there. It can be folded to take up less space; very compact I must say. So we freshened up baby V and we set off to paint the town red!
We shopped till our legs nearly broke and settled for a late dinner. Dad recalled that we had Japanese food at one of the places on the 2nd floor during our last trip several years back, but we can’t seem to find it anymore. So we went into a random Japanese restaurant across the road from NET. The place was quite small and luckily still serving though last orders were pretty soon. We quickly settled for a table and ordered our food.
After we were belly full, we took the MRT back to Taipei Main Station and headed straight for our hotel. Full and tired. Time to recharge!
Day 6: K Underground Mall at Taipei Main Station – Taipei 101 – Wu Fen Pu Market
The next morning, we had a tough time waking up so we took it nice and slow. As the hotel does not provide breakfast, we decided to explore the underground malls for food. However, it seemed like we were too early as most shops aren’t opened till 10am or 10.30am at least. Fortunately, a bakery (Yamasaki, the same one we have in Singapore too) was opened so we settled for some bites and coffee. Not exactly our idea option since it’s not unique to Taiwan but fuel is important to start the day!
The underground mall was one of my must-go places whenever we are in Taipei. Shoes are a girl’s best friend; cheap and comfy shoes are our BFFs. ‘Nuff said. Heh! This time round I only managed 2 pairs but better than none. The underground mall is covers quite an area, long stretches and also connects to Eslite Mall (which we explored the next day instead) so you pretty much spend a couple of hours there. There’s a 康是美too, which is a must-go for your beauty stocks! Regretted not checking out their store prior to Watsons cos my holy grail moisturizer was at a gigantor size with good savings! Didn’t have much penny left so I could only buy 1 of it, which is equivalent to 3 jars. And I had purchased 2 jars of the normal size over the past few days (no discount, but still cheaper than in Singapore.)
Bought that and a couple of clothes for myself and my sister and we decided to go for lunch. Hub remembered a beef noodle place that we went to during our last trip (post-wedding/pre-honeymoon… hiakz hiakz…any reason for a holiday! LOL.) so we tried to locate the shop with fingers crossed. It’s still there! Missed taking the stall though, but it’s located near the toilets at one of the corners of the underground mall.
And then I needed to go to the toilet! Argh. Bringing her out of the carrier is akin to waking her as she stirs when there’s movement. So we tried our luck….
After combing the underground mall, we decided to take a train to Taipei 101. MRT rides are fast and easy. The station control folks were sharp-eyed too; saw us carrying a baby and pushing a stroller, this lady signaled to us to use the bigger ticketing gateway. Thumbs up!
In our memory, Taipei 101 had a big food court with several other stores selling fancy food – very much like our own Takashimaya. It was also the first time we tried sea urchin sushi back then, and our very own local coffee, Ya Kun, had a stall too. This time round, we realized that the area had undergone a revamp; that level has changed entirely. Food court intact but all stalls are now different, even the layout. What a change. Despite it being more spacious with added seating, it was still very packed when we were there. We found a table right in front of the bak kwa stall and bought bubble tea, fried chicken and soya bean curd while we rested our legs and my poor back.
We didn’t walk much at the upper levels, and made our way to Wu Fen Pu since it was evening and less hot. Best to avoid Mondays as they will be busy with wholesaler deals and shops taking stocks from them. After getting some good bargains like my banana print skirt, we settled for dinner and zipped our way back to the hotel. Tired much.
Day 7: Eslite Mall – Airport – Singapore
Last morning in Taipei for us to grab breakfast before heading to the airport. Since most shops were not opened yet, we settled for McDonald’s. Prices were cheaper than ours in SG, and Hub had his usual pancakes which came larger than our version too!
After we were done, some shops were getting ready for the day, so Hub and I sped to do some last minute shopping. Some interesting shops and stuff spotted:
After getting some gifts, we headed back to the hotel to check-out and make our way to the airport via cab. Taipei International Airport has spacious and super clean breastfeeding/nursing facilities! We were the only ones in there when baby V needed a diaper change, so we took the chance to snap some pictures of the different areas.
Heading home…. till we meet again Taiwan! You’ve been a great place for with our baby :) Not forgetting my parents who agreed to join in traveling as family, although it would have been nice to have my sister with us too.
Guess this trip proved flying with a baby to be do-able! so guess what? We finally managed to catch everyone’s schedule to travel together as a family!! Nowhere too far, and maybe you have already seen our snapshots on Instagram and Facebook – yup, Penang, it was! Will be putting the article together soon, so keep your eyes peeled for tips, where to go and what to see and do! Consider subscribing to our mailing list so you won’t miss any article :)
Parents, if you’re planning to travel with your bubba, this list might come in handy. Am sure the last thing anyone needs is a surprise of leaving out baby’s items; or worse, if it’s something not easily gotten/non-existent in other countries.
P/S: After we shared Part 1, many mummies connected with us to ask for more info and said that they were looking forward to Part 2. Honestly, I’m very very happy to know that all my effort of putting together everything is serving my main purpose in mind – be of good help to readers. Really appreciate YOU, YOU and YOU for taking time to scroll and read. Makes me more motivated to write regularly. THANK YOU for being with us – the support is greatly appreciated :)